Speeches & Transcripts


March 30, 2010

Qimiao Fan Cambodia

As Prepared for Delivery

Opening Remarks by Qimiao Fan, Country Manager for Cambodia, the World Bank


Excellency Nhim Vanda, Senior Minister and First Vice Chairman of National Committee for Disaster Management;

Excellency Bun Sam, Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance;
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is an honor for me to be here with you today and to share a few thoughts on the post-Ketsana needs assessment process and on the challenges facing Cambodia in planning for, mitigating and responding to disasters in a rapidly changing world. 

The post-Ketsana needs assessment report launched here today is a result of the close collaboration and cooperation of 17 different government agencies, dozens of development partners and civil society organizations.  This level of coordination and cooperation is, of and in itself, an important achievement. 

In this connection and on behalf of the PDNA Team and the World Bank, I would like to extend my appreciation to the many agencies that provided immediate emergency assistance following the storm, to the wide range of stakeholders who took part in supporting the PDNA process, and to everyone who will support the post-Ketsana recovery and reconstruction efforts.  I would also like to extend my thanks to the Australian Agency for International Development for their commitment of additional $2 million for the various post-disaster needs assessments in the Asia Pacific Region and to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery for its prompt and effective support in providing financial resources and technical expertise.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, natural disasters like Ketsana spare no sector or segment of the society: they impact agriculture as well tourism; they damage roads as well houses; they interrupt education as well health service delivery; and they affect rural as well as urban communities.  The negative impacts of natural disasters like Ketsana have been felt across the economy and recovery and rebuilding will also require broad participation.  In this regard, the collaborative process of preparing this report is an excellent start towards broader collaboration on recovery, mitigation and disaster risk management.

Indeed, I would like to stress that the post disaster needs assessment is a process rather than a product, and it does not end here when the report is launched.  With NCDM’s leadership and full ownership by the government, we have a comprehensive report which lays out key areas for reconstruction and recovery.  However, recovery and reconstruction are not just about getting back to business as usual; simple rebuilding will only replicate the conditions which make communities vulnerable to natural disasters in the first place.

Recovery and reconstruction for Cambodia, like for any other country, means building better through mitigation and disaster risk management.   We need to look at what conditions made roads, houses, agriculture and livelihoods vulnerable to natural disasters and ensure that these conditions are not replicated in reconstruction.  Relief alone will not be enough to mitigate disasters and building resilient communities, infrastructure, livelihoods are the key to reducing the impact of natural disasters.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Asia Pacific region accounts for 42 percent of the world’s natural disasters and a disproportionate 65 percent of their victims.  People in low income countries like Cambodia are 20 times more likely to die from natural disasters than those in high income countries, and studies have shown the frequency and intensity of natural disaster are only likely to increase as global warming continues.

With the certainty of future natural disasters, Cambodia must continue to refine not only its relief response, but its mitigation and disaster risk management systems.  For Cambodia to be safer and to mitigate the risks from future disasters, mitigation and disaster risk management must be part and parcel of the country’s development planning and budgeting.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, investing in mitigation and disaster risk management is one of the best investments any country can make: for every $1 invested in mitigation, an estimated $4 to $10 can be saved in the recovery process. 

That is an important lesson we have learned from Cambodia’s past experience and from other countries who have dealt with similar problems.  And that is the action I hope we will all take together in making Cambodia and Cambodian people safer from future natural disasters. 

Thank you.